decline + fall

(21 april 2007)


2007 began with one resolution. i was going to read books i already own, most especially the 500+ pagers. way back in january, this seemed like a very exciting madcap sort of literary la adventura. ultimately, it’s kind of sucked.

i read one book at a time. i have always done this. i have never not done this and i never thought i would be the kind of person who doesn’t do this. but, at the moment, i am not doing this- a fact that has mildly unhinged my sense of self. every morning my eyes open to a pile of books on a nightstand and i fear that i have wandered into the bed of some unfocused person with curiously similar literary taste.

then i remember. this is who i am now. a girl with a commitment problem.

it seems increasingly likely that i may be a girl who lives a very very long life only to die with that damn shelby foote, the memoirs of the duc de saint-simon, and michael bellesiles’ arming america still unfinished, still piled on the bedside table, still bookmarked at pages 425, 364, and 243 respectively. and this simply will not do.

yet, how to put a stop to it? over the years, i have come to avoid bookstores like the plague, because they get me in trouble. it would be like an alcoholic hanging out at a liquor store- a plainly unwise move. but a literary rut demands desperate measures, and what better way to resolve a handful of languishing reading relationships than a book-buying rampage?

because book-buying can sometimes be a rather difficult thing to avoid when one is a lover of books, i’ve developed an array of emotional armament to protect myself from flagrant biblioindulgence. a bookstore trip should always be a group activity, because in company one is less likely to throw down the credit card with reckless abandonment and walk out with the collected works of anna maxted and the marquis de sade.

when a solo bookstore encounter cannot be prevented, a pen and paper are vital because one can then peruse the shelves jotting down titles, which creates a sense of interactivity without actual purchase. these titles can then be added to a 34-page amazon wish list, creating the illusion that they are at least members of one’s virtual library if not the real thing.

i honestly can’t remember when i last went to a corporate chain bookstore by myself. but today- defenses down, pen and paper at home, caution thrown to the pleasantly warm wind- i fell, exhausted, humbled, and literarily broken-down, into the loving arms of borders. two and a half hours and three wildly different books later, i left him and walked home in the sunny saturday afternoon, grinning like a fool because all is again well in my written world.

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